Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) announced that the state of Florida would scrap diversity, equity, and inclusion funding from public universities and increase scrutiny toward underperforming professors.
DeSantis, who entered a second term as chief executive this month after a landslide re-election victory, recently asked public university administrators to provide a detailed account of expenditures related to DEI initiatives as members of the Florida legislature consider budget proposals. He revealed on Tuesday that his office would work to “eliminate all DEI and CRT bureaucracies in the state of Florida” such that the programs “wither on the vine.”
“It really serves as an ideological filter,” DeSantis said, noting the compelled speech and political pressure that emerges under the auspices of diversity programs. “We probably are the first state that’s actually leading by example, but I can tell you those bureaucracies are not representative of what the people of this state and the taxpayers of this state want.”
The request from DeSantis regarding DEI initiatives asked university administrators to include a brief description of each program, the total funding used to support the program, and the portion of the funding that came from taxpayer dollars. He added that “DEI bureaucracies” are “hostile to academic freedom” and “constitute a drain on resources.”
Consultants and university officials often reap significant financial returns from their promotion of the DEI movement within postsecondary institutions. An analysis from the Heritage Foundation found that colleges hire an average of three diversity staffers for every 100 tenured faculty.
Previous legislation signed by DeSantis mandates performance reviews of tenured professors every five years. He announced further “accountability for tenured faculty” by granting university presidents and trustees “the power to call a post-tenure review at any time.”
“The most significant deadweight cost at universities is typically unproductive tenured faculty,” he said. “Why would we want to saddle you as taxpayers with that cost if we do not have to?”
The proposals come after DeSantis appointed a number of conservative officials to the New College of Florida Board of Trustees with the hope that the public liberal arts school would likewise eliminate controversial ideologies. Among the appointees were Christopher Rufo, a fellow with the Manhattan Institute and an activist who has vocally opposed critical race theory, as well as Matthew Spalding, a constitutional government professor at Hillsdale College.
DeSantis stressed promoting curricula that emphasize the values and philosophy of Western civilization; he also discussed the need for Florida to offer training courses for nurses, truck drivers, and other professions with shortages in the state and national economies.
“You see the growth of administrative bloat around the country with higher education, and it dwarfs what they are spending on people who actually teach our students. … They are not really improving the academic performance,” he commented. “They are expanding bureaucrats and administrative staff and trying to impose an agenda through that way. That is a failed model, and we want to make sure that’s not what’s happening here in the state of Florida.”
DeSantis has also sounded the alarm over the College Board’s forthcoming AP African American Studies curriculum. One version of the course included black queer theory and invited students to consider the merits of abolishing prisons. The Florida Department of Education, which mandates traditional black history in public schools, blasted the material as “contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value” and called on the College Board to make the content “historically accurate.”